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The Classified PowerShift hub is a really interesting bit of tech that has the power to change road bike design for good. It's a front derailleur-killing design that I think is going to really shake things up, particularly in the aero bike world, by allowing you to run what is effectively a 2x setup while reaping the benefits of 1x. And with more wheel brands on board, things are going to get even better.
What we have here is a single-chainring setup (1x) with all of the benefits of a double (2x) setup, and none of the drawbacks of either.
Inside the rear hub is a two-speed gear system that gives you 100 per cent of whatever chainring you have fitted, and then a reduction gear of around 70 per cent of that chainring, essentially doing the job of your 'missing' smaller chainring. So it's like having your front derailleur hidden away in your rear hub.
That has a range of mechanical benefits, not least the fact that you'll never have to index a front derailleur again. All of the important bits are also housed out of the way of rain and corrosive road spray, so you won't be needing to clean anything. And because this is a planetary gear system, the shifting between the two ratios is unbelievably fast.
Let's talk about performance for a moment, though there really isn't much to say. Press the small shift button and the system changes in 0.15 seconds. It'll do it under power, at any cadence, and it is yet to miss a beat. Classified does say that the system can't be shifted when you're pushing out over 1,000 watts, but I'm not sure that would be sensible anyway.
Shifting this thing is addictive for the first few rides, and I spent the majority of the testing period seeing if I could make it go wrong. I couldn't.
Rattling over trails and gravel paths also caused no issues, and during a summer cyclocross race I was able to bail out into the 'little ring' reduction gear in a place that may well have sent my chain bouncing off onto the bottom bracket had I been using a conventional derailleur system.
If you're using Shimano Di2, the system gets even better. The small shift button is replaced by the system integrating into the existing left-hand Shimano Di2 lever. I don't have it on this Canyon Inflite test bike, but I have ridden it and found this way of doing things the best.
My SRAM-equipped bike requires the small shifter button to be poked through the bar tape or, ideally, you can punch a hole in the shifter hood. Seeing as this isn't my bike, I had the shifter button poking through the bar tape.
I don't like the SRAM setup half as much and, quite frankly SRAM, if you're reading this, you need to get on board with the system and offer your customers proper integration. Top marks to Shimano for allowing – or not preventing – the integration.
The cassette is a very nice bit of machining with a hollow body that really needs to be seen up close to be admired. Gear changes across the cassette were also smooth, and I didn't notice any extra drivetrain noise.
Our test system came with an 11-30T cassette, but it's available in four sizes: 11-27, 11-30, 11-32, and 11-34. My bike also had a 42-tooth chainring, and Classified recommends a minimum size of 40T.
The main benefits for road and gravel bikes is that you don't need to run a massive cassette with big gaps to get a normal range of gears. So on the road, you can run a normal 52 or 53T chainring with a standard 11-30 cassette and have all of the gears that you'd usually have with a 2x system.
The wheels use 12x100 and 12x142mm thru-axles, the rear being the one that receives the shift signal and then actuates the shift. The axle houses a 1-watt motor, which is rather tiny, but uses the wheel's movement to actually change gear.
You will need to charge the rear axle occasionally, but I'm three months into testing and my occasional riding is yet to drain the battery.
So, why am I so confident that this is a nailed-on gamechanger for aero road bikes? (Though I think it'll also change the gravel and mountain bike worlds.) Well, we need to consider what riders and teams are prepared to do to their current bikes and the clothing that they will wear to save even a few watts.
Look at any road race, even down at my pitiful level, and you'll see a lot of aero socks, speedsuits, aero helmets, deep wheels, oversized pulley wheel cage systems and stupidly narrow handlebars. All of these measures save just a few watts each, and we've already seen 1x bike designers promoting the potential aero savings from removing the front derailleur. And then a quick look around the car park at a local time trial will tell you that when it comes to cheating the wind, the front derailleur isn't welcome.
Weight might seem like one potential issue, but the hub, at about 475g, is compensated for slightly by the removal of the front derailleur, its mount, the inner chainring and the fact that the cassette is superlight at just 190g. A Dura-Ace R9200 front derailleur, for example, weighs 93g and Classified says that overall bike weight won't be negatively affected if you're currently using a 2X Di2 setup with something like a DT Swiss 350 hub.
I, personally, would be taking that with a pinch of salt as it'll largely depend on the rear hub that you're replacing. If it was a superlight design then the Powershift might make your bike weigh a bit more.
The wheels that I had installed were the Classified gravel model. They're fine, with smooth bearings and a decent rim shape, but they're nothing exciting. The good news is that Classified has recently announced partnerships with a range of wheelset brands, including DT Swiss, Mavic, Fast Forward, Enve, Reynolds, Boyd Cycling, and Spinergy.
That's a brilliant move on Classified's part, because it can go about focusing on making the integration with shifting systems better and dropping the weight of the hubs, while leaving the rim and wheel building stuff to the brands that already do a great job.
In fact, the only reason that I couldn't give Classified a glowing 5-star review was because of the slightly dull wheels. So if you're going to be buying the system in a different wheelset and putting it in a Di2 groupset then you can consider this a perfect review.
The final thing we need to cover is price. For any of the current Classified wheelsets, which come with everything that you need for the system, you're looking at £2,300. That is a significant amount for a front derailleur replacement, but for a carbon wheelset it isn't ridiculous.
Prices are yet to be confirmed for the third-party wheels, but Classified has confirmed that it will soon be offering the system as a standalone product to be built onto a rim of your choice. That might be the cheapest way to get it.
I'm dead impressed by the Classified Powershift system. I think it's about to really shake up the road and gravel bike markets, and with a mountain bike version coming too, this is one to seriously consider.
An excellent system – better shifting than a standard front derailleur, with many more benefits
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Classified Powershift Hub
Size tested: 11-30T
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"POWERSHIFT TECHNOLOGY is a wireless shifting technology that allows you to shift gears instantly and under full load. Its first application is the Powershift hub, which replaces the front derailleur. The Powershift hub offers unrivalled shift quality, high gearing range and small steps in between gears combining the benefits of both 1x and 2x."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The system included:
A shift button
This would be a 10 but for the wheels.
Wheels aside, it's exceptional.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This shifts instantly under loads of power and at low cadences. It's so much better than a front derailleur.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The shifting is mesmerisingly good.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The wheelset isn't amazing.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Nothing else like this on the market.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If I was scoring this on just the hub system it would be a 10. This is a brilliant idea that has been delivered well. The shifting is insanely good. While the wheels are okay, the cost for the wheelset system is high – but with other brands coming in and the system soon to be available for building into existing wheels, this is going to be less of an issue.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!